Superheroes Around the World


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This presentation was a Fantasticon in Copenhagen, Denmark, last fall, discussing what defines a superhero and how this impacts how we see superheroes around the world.

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Superheroes Around the World

  1. 1. Superheroes around the World CarrieLynn D. Reinhard, PhD. Roskilde University
  2. 2. What is a superhero?
  3. 6. But what about these?
  4. 8. What makes some characters superheroes, and others not? Do they all have to be from the United States? What do people outside of the United States think about superheroes?
  5. 9. International Survey <ul><li>Spring of 2009, International survey: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Advertised across different country specific Facebooks, from the United States to Japan, from South Africa to Sweden. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1000+ partially completed the online survey. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Of this group, only the 112 who answered all the close-ended answers and provided a real country of origin were included in the analysis. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discuss: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What defines a superhero? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How well know American superheroes? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What other cultures’ heroes could be superheroes? </li></ul></ul>
  6. 10. What defines a superhero?
  7. 11. Main Definitional Categories <ul><li>Sanctioned Mission </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engages in missions sanctioned by society/culture in which stories originate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Either as “the calling”, assigned or personally taken up </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Superpower(s) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Possesses some ability that is beyond what a normal human could do with training or technology </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secret Identity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engages in mission-related activities under a pseudonym to protect real identity and loved ones </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Codename </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pseudonym, or the operational name given when engaging in mission-related activities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Costume Motif </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Iconic representation of what the character stands for, is able to do, overall theme/power </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Worn in mission-related activities, often to protect real identity </li></ul></ul>
  8. 12. American Superheroes Superhero Sanctioned Mission Super-power(s) Secret identity Code-name Costume motif Superman X X X X X Batman X   X X X Wonder Woman X X X X X Green Lantern X X X X X The Flash X X X X X Green Arrow X   X X X The Martian Manhunter X X   X X Spider-Man X X X X X Iron Man X X X X X Wolverine X X X X X The Hulk   X X X X Storm X X X X X Captain America X X   X X Ghost Rider X X X X X Thor X X     X Mr. Fantastic X X   X X The Human Torch X X   X X Punisher X   X X X Hellboy X X   X X The Shadow X X X X X Zorro X   X X X
  9. 13. <ul><li>The percentages of people who agree or disagree or are not certain that the specific characteristic is necessary for defining a character as a superhero. </li></ul>
  10. 14. How well known are American superheroes?
  11. 15. Recognizing Superheroes: DC
  12. 16. Recognizing Superheroes: Marvel
  13. 17. Recognizing Superheroes: Other Comic Book
  14. 18. Recognizing Superheroes: And Others Still…
  15. 19. What is the reason for such patterns of recognition?
  16. 20. What other cultures’ heroes could be superheroes?
  17. 21. Would-Be, Could-Be Superheroes Superhero?? Sanctioned Mission Super-power(s) Secret identity Code-name Costume motif Ultraman X X X X X Kamen Rider 1 X X X X X Power Rangers X X X X X Gatchaman X   X X X Sailor Moon X X X X X The Guyver   X X X X NERV X     X X Samurai Pizza Cats X       X Mamoru Kusanagi X X     X Pretty Girl Sammy X X X X X Witch Hunter Robin X X   X X Card Capturer Sakura X X     X The Knight Sabers X   X   X Vash the Stampede X X X   X Voltron X       X Astro Boy X X     X Jesus X X     X Hercules   X     X Robin Hood X   X X   Beowulf X         James Bond X   X X X
  18. 22. Recognizing Superheroes: Japanese
  19. 23. Do other cultures, countries have superheros?
  20. 24. North America Canada: Captain Canuck, Fleur de Lys, Nelvana Argentina: El Eternauta Mexico: El Santo, Kaliman, Blue Demon
  21. 25. Europe France: Fantômas Italy: Diabolik, Zagor Spain: El Guerro del Antifaz, El Capitán Trueno United Kingdom: Tank Girl, James Bond, V, Judge Dredd, MarvelMan, Promethea, Sherlock Holmes
  22. 26. Middle East Israel: Sabraman, Adiri Atchelet Kuwait: The 99
  23. 27. Asia Indonesia: Gundala, Gatotkaca, Garuda Putih China: The 108 Heroes of The Water Margin Japan: Volton, M.K.R., Akazukin Chacha, Saint Tail, Astro Boy, Godzilla, Saint Seiya, Biomen
  24. 28. Let’s Break It Down…
  25. 29. <ul><li>Codename: El Santo </li></ul><ul><li>Secret Identity: Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta (sorta…) </li></ul><ul><li>Superpower(s): strength, wrestling moves </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctioned Mission: to fight supernatural creatures, evil scientists, criminals </li></ul><ul><li>Costume Motif: silver mask, cape, leggings </li></ul>
  26. 30. <ul><li>Codename: Gundala </li></ul><ul><li>Secret Identity: Sancaka </li></ul><ul><li>Superpower(s): shoot lightning, super speed </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctioned Mission: to fight crime </li></ul><ul><li>Costume Motif: Blue spandex, red boots/gloves, winged ears </li></ul>
  27. 31. <ul><li>Codename: Robin Hood </li></ul><ul><li>Secret Identity: Robert Fitzooth, Earl of Huntingdon, Robin of Loxley </li></ul><ul><li>Superpower(s): marksmanship </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctioned Mission: to ”rob from the rich to give to the poor” </li></ul><ul><li>Costume Motif: green, and a hood </li></ul>
  28. 32. <ul><li>Codename: Samson </li></ul><ul><li>Secret Identity: ... </li></ul><ul><li>Superpower(s): tremendous strength </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctioned Mission: to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines </li></ul><ul><li>Costume Motif: his long hair, toga/loincloth </li></ul>
  29. 33. <ul><li>Codename: Jesus </li></ul><ul><li>Secret Identity: Son of God </li></ul><ul><li>Superpower(s): miracles </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctioned Mission: to ease human suffering </li></ul><ul><li>Costume Motif: long hair, beard, simple and flowing garmets </li></ul>
  30. 34. <ul><li>Codename: Diabolik </li></ul><ul><li>Secret Identity: unknown </li></ul><ul><li>Superpower(s): technology </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctioned Mission: to steal from criminals </li></ul><ul><li>Costume Motif: black spandex covers all but eyes </li></ul>
  31. 35. <ul><li>Codename: Pippi Longstocking </li></ul><ul><li>Secret Identity: Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking </li></ul><ul><li>Superpower(s): super strength </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctioned Mission: to mock and dupe bad adults </li></ul><ul><li>Costume Motif: long red pigtails, patchwork dress, long stockings </li></ul>
  32. 36. Appropriation versus Parody
  33. 37. Other Appropriations <ul><li>La Mujer Murcielago (1968) </li></ul><ul><li>Japanese Spider-Man (1978) </li></ul><ul><li>Turkish Superman (1979) </li></ul><ul><li>Indian Superman (1987) </li></ul>
  34. 38. Parodies <ul><li>Canada’s Mr. Canoehead </li></ul><ul><li>Superlópez from Spain </li></ul><ul><li>Falafel Man from Israel </li></ul><ul><li>Supershlumper from Israel </li></ul><ul><li>Italian Spider-Man (2008) </li></ul>
  35. 39. To learn more… <ul><li>International Catalogue of Superheroes </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>My writings: </li></ul>